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Block v. Glen

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 2, 2019

WILLIOUS EUGENE BLOCK PLAINTIFF
v.
PRESTON GLENN, Administrator, Nevada County Detention Center “NCDC”; JAILER ASHLEY ISLEY; SUPERVISOR KAREN GHORLEY; JAILER TOMMY MILLER; JAILER MIKE DAVIS; JAILER ASHLEY TURNER; JANE AND JOHN DOE MEDICAL STAFF MEMBERS DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SUSAN O. HICKEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment and Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment of Separate Defendants Preston Glenn, Ashley Isley, Karen Ghorley, Tommy Miller, Mike Davis, and Ashley Turner. (ECF Nos. 17, 25). An Affidavit was filed in support of Defendants' Motion on June 11, 2019. (ECF No. 33). Plaintiff has not responded and his time to do so has passed.[1] The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 30, 2018, Plaintiff fell while he was housed at the Nevada County Detention Center (“the Detention Center”). (ECF No. 1). According to Plaintiff, the Detention Center staff found him laying in a puddle of water. Id. Plaintiff states that Separate Defendants Mike Davis and Tommy Miller were instructed by Separate Defendant Karen Ghorley not to move or touch him and to let him try to get up on his own. Id. Plaintiff states the jailers instead grabbed his arms and pulled him to a sitting position “as [he] expressed pain.” Id. Plaintiff states that the jailers then continued to pull him to his feet, causing more pain in his lower back and spine “[a]nd possibl[y] caus[ing] more injury to both back and knee.” Id.

         Plaintiff states that after the fall, he requested medical treatment and attention from Defendants. Id. Plaintiff asked other inmates to push a button to reach jailers, but the jailers did not answer. Id. Plaintiff states that he requested to go to the ER several times and that he requested medication to ease his pain, “[b]ut neither staff member came back to the barracks to assist me.” Id. Plaintiff states that Separate Defendant Miller stated “[w]e had an insane emergency up front and was to [sic] busy.” Id. Plaintiff further states that he continued “to beg and cry for, over 24 hours of cruel pain and suffering which continued on for many day[s] afterward.” Id.

         Defendants state that when they found Plaintiff laying in a puddle of water after his fall, Plaintiff was asked if he needed EMS and he informed them that he did not. (ECF Nos. 28, 33). Defendants further state that Plaintiff ultimately asked for assistance standing up and getting into bed. Id. The Affidavit of Separate Defendant Karen Ghorley states that “[a]t no point did any individual attempt to force [Plaintiff] to stand, causing him any sort of pain, nor did any Jailer willfully ignore any requests for help made by [Plaintiff].” (ECF No. 33). Defendants also state that “[a]t the approximate time of this incident, another detainee at the Detention Center attempted suicide, and the response to this superseded any non-emergency medical need.” (ECF Nos. 28, 33).

         Plaintiff saw the Detention Center's doctor the next day, on May 1, 2018. (ECF Nos. 28, 33). After this visit, Plaintiff continued to make complaints to jail administration, and was informed by Separate Defendant Administrator Preston Glenn that he would need to fill out a medical request form in order to see the doctor. Id. The Plaintiff did not fill out a medical request form until May 15, 2018. Id.

         Plaintiff was thereafter taken to Wadley Regional Medical Center in Hope, Arkansas, on May 15, 2018, where it was determined that he was suffering from a back sprain-a pulled muscle in his back. (ECF Nos. 28, 33). Wadley Regional discharged Plaintiff the same day with no prescription medications or care instructions. His discharge notes included information on stretches to relieve pain, and information on using acetaminophen or ibuprofen when needed. Id. When Plaintiff filed his final medical request on May 22, 2018, asking for a specialist to look at his back, Plaintiff was informed that the Detention Center was following doctor's orders. (ECF Nos. 28, 33).

         The Detention Center handbook states that “[a]ll perceived emergency medical situations shall receive immediate attention. Emergency medical situations will have priority over routine Detention Facility operations until the emergency is resolved.” (ECF Nos. 28, 33). A medical emergency includes “[a]ny perceived life or health threatening condition” including, inter alia, severe bleeding, unconsciousness, head injury, severe pain, suicide attempt, or severe burns. Id. In an emergency situation, dispatch is to be notified immediately, and EMS is to transport a detainee to the hospital. Id.

         The jailer discovering an emergency situation is to complete an incident report and record the incident in the jail log and detainee records. (ECF Nos. 28, 33). Detention Center staff is to strictly comply with doctor's orders upon returning the detainee to the facility. Id. As for non-emergency medical needs, the Detention Center offers routine sick call. Id. A detainee must make a written sick call request stating the nature of the problem, and the jail administrator makes arrangements for the detainee to be transported. Id. Further, “[a]ll sick call requests, the result of all appointments and examinations, prescribed medications, receipts for medications administered, or any information pertaining to health care are placed in the detainee's medical record.” (ECF Nos. 28, 33).

         Plaintiff filed his pro se Complaint on June 29, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on the same day. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff sues Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff asserts claims for excessive force, denial of medical care, and denial of due process of the law. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (ECF No. 3).

         Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on February 14, 2019. (ECF No. 17). The Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on May 20, 2019. (ECF No. 25). Defendants' original motion asserts that they are entitled to summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's claim of denial of medical care. Specifically, Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not suffer from a serious medical need and, further, argue that Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to any of Plaintiff's medical needs. Alternatively, Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Plaintiff's medical care claim. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that his alleged injuries resulted from a policy or custom in place at the Detention Center and that, therefore, his official capacity claims fail. (ECF No. 17). In the supplemental motion, Defendants assert they are entitled to summary judgement with respect to Plaintiff's claims for excessive force and due process violations. Defendants also argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to these claims. (ECF No. 25).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other ...


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